Journey Under the Bridge

Earlier this month, I knocked two items off my Bucket List. I’ll share these adventures with you over the next couple of days.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a fascination with the Mackinac Bridge. Almost every summer, my family would make a trip north, to visit my mother’s friend from high school, Val. Val and her husband Roger live in Wakefield, Michigan… which is almost to Wisconsin. So “the bridge” was our halfway point.

I remember seeing advertisements for boat trips that took tourists underneath The Mighty Mac. Each summer, I would beg to go… but each summer, we were in too much of a rush to get there or get home. Or we ended up taking the ferry over to Mackinac Island.

This year, I knew I’d end up in Mackinaw City for the release of our book, Murdick’s Mackinaw Mystery, so I made plans to finally take my ride under the bridge. The boat was the Ugly Annie… and the trip was simply magnificent. Of course, this is coming from the guy that was always more impressed with the Hoover Dam than the Grand Canyon. I guess man-made mechanical marvels are more interesting to me than natural creations… more on that in another post.

For now, here are some pictures from my trip under the Mackinac Bridge:

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One of the island ferries, with the Grand Hotel in the background.

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Approaching the bridge, traveling West.

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I couldn’t get enough of this view…

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Yeah… after seeing this, I won’t be driving in the center lanes again.

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One final pass under the bridge, traveling East.

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Puppy Mills.

Hey, all.

Time for a good, old-fashioned, high-on-my-horse rant.

Whenever someone tells me that they’re thinking about adding a dog to their family, I strongly encourage them to consider the local Humane Society or an animal shelter. Responsible people looking to own an animal really have no reason to consider any other option.

According to the Humane Society website, 2.7 million… that’s the number of adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year across this country.

The average cost to shelters for euthanizing an animal is $50. So this country spends 135 million dollars on killing animals every year. Then consider the costs involved in employees at shelters, vehicle upkeep, food for the animals, veterinary care. Of course, some of this is offset by animal adoption fees. But the majority of this is paid for by you and I— with our tax dollars.

Impact on our wallets aside, what about the impact on our hearts? Are you really comfortable knowing that 2.7 million adoptable animals are killed each year in this country? I’m sure as hell not.

And why do we have this problem? Because irresponsible people make impulse purchases of animals, to please a child or feed some crazy guilt trip. And six months later, the dog ends up in a shelter because the foolhardy decision has caught up with the family— when the kids don’t care anymore and Fido has pooped in the house one too many times.

Is it acceptable to take a trip to your local mall, with the intention of seeing a movie or building-a-bear… only to come home with a real, live, beating heart that you’ll be responsible for— for 10-15 years? I don’t think so. Yet, that’s exactly what goes on at my local mall, with a business called The Family Puppy. Cute name, eh? Sounds so innocent.

Yet, with some research, we find that The Family Puppy is getting their dogs from some very questionable sources, who are not adhering to directives from federal inspectors or following rules as mandated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA):

  • In 2012, The Family Puppy’s largest supplier, Marlin Bontrager of Rome City IN, was cited for direct veterinary care violations and when the inspector returned there were six more violations including more veterinary care related violations.
  • Two other main suppliers, Lavern Whetstone of Goshen IN and Verlyn Weaver of Topeka IN, were cited for not seeking veterinary care for animals that were in pain and suffering. Whetstone was told by the federal inspector to seek veterinary care and the kennel instead had a “non-professional” remove the membrane of a dog with cherry eyes. Weaver was cited for a pregnant dog with a build up of thick dark crust on her teeth. The store continued to work with both breeders despite these continued violations.

Here in my area, there is even an attempt to initiate a City Ordinance which would ban the retail sale of puppies. Here is where my conservative values clash with my liberal views. The conservative in me says that businesses have a right to sell what they want. The liberal in me says that shelters are the way to go when choosing an animal. And then the conservative in me also looks at the issue of this business costing the city more in the long run, when they will eventually contribute to the pet population that winds up at the shelter. So what is the answer? Let The Family Puppy run their business. But use my conservative and liberal right to free speech to not support their business and encourage others to do the same.

Bottom line: if you want a dog, go visit a shelter. Do some research. Don’t make an impulse purchase. Wait. Exercise patience. The world will be better for your restraint. And if you expect my friendship after supporting a business like The Family Puppy? I don’t think so.

By the way… here is me and Zipper. I wanted a Papillon from a shelter. Almost impossible. So, I waited. And waited. And waited. About 18 months went by… and then I saw him smiling at me on my local shelter’s Facebook page. The wait was worth it.

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Thanks for visiting this blog! As you see, it is not supported by advertising. If you would like to personally support this blog and its authors, here is what you can do:

1. Go pick up a copy of Pete the Popcorn at Amazon! Pete the Popcorn was our first book, nationally recognized as a perfectly subtle anti-bullying message for youngsters. You can LIKE Pete on Facebook by visiting www.Facebook.com/PeteThePopcorn. And you’ll find all sortz of information like videos, photos and school visit PDF files at www.PeteThePopcorn.com.

2. Jump on the Pete bandwagon and purchase Pete the Popcorn 2! This book teaches children all about the Popcorn Principle of honesty! It’s available here!

3. Treat yourself to our popular book Casey and Callie Cupcake! This Frosted Fable About Being Fantastic Just The Way You Are teaches children to accept themselves and their friends for the person they are on the inside! Keep track of our new cupcake book offerings on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CupcakeBook!

Thanks for all your support! If you want to help out in other ways, please contact us!

I forgot how to use this thing… almost.

Wow… July 31st was my last post? JULY 31?

A lot can change in life… fast. And mine sure has proven that.

On July 24th, I started a new job. Yes, I write books for children. Yes, they pull in some money. No, they don’t pay for cars and houses. So I do have to work in between playing an author writing a blog.

So I decided to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather and work here:

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Okay, that’s an old photo.

Here is one that’s more current:

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Yep, I’m officially an autoworker. A member of the UAW. I’m building cars.

And what fun it is! No, really… I do enjoy it. The people I work with are fantastic. The money is good. And the machines don’t talk back. What do I do, in particular?

Here is a 2014 Jeep Cherokee:

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And what do I do? I install the rear bumper… or fascia, in technical terms.

Oh, I do other stuff, too. But that’s the easiest part to explain.

So why am I writing here now?

Truthfully, I’ve missed it. I’ve missed it terribly. My favorite part was reading comments from perfect strangers from all over the world. But I just haven’t had time… that lame excuse that everyone turns to now and again.

I’m going to strive to make time. Starting today.

Speaking of today… it’s National Popcorn Day. Some of you read this blog because you know that I’ve written a few books for kids.

While I was away, busy building Jeeps, I released my 5th book: Crusty Cupcake’s Happy Birthday. Here is the cover:

Crusty Cupcake's Happy Birthday

 

It came out back on November 1st… and I think it was the best one yet. The message? Children should learn that having friends is the best gift there is!

Incidentally, since today is National Popcorn Day… and my first book for children was called Pete the Popcorn… what might be going on in my world today?

That’s right! Book #6 is being released on Amazon.com and it is a follow-up to Pete the Popcorn:

Pete PART 2 COVER

 

Pete the Popcorn 2 introduces a few new characters, including Policeman Parker Popcorn. So many children, especially in inner cities, only look at police officers in a negative light. We wanted to change that. We wanted to teach kids that police officers are here to help… to protect… to serve.

The book also touches on honesty. And we are using this book as a launching point for our series discovering “Popcorn Principles.” Each book will explore a different principle that we as a country hold near to our hearts. And these principles are ones that kids can begin practicing today.

How can you help? As usual, share this post. Take to Twitter and Facebook. Tell folks about the fledgling author that also builds Jeeps. Help me make a difference by buying some of my books on Amazon. And then get a friend to do it, too.

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Pete-Popcorn-Popcorns-Practicing-Principles/dp/1494914859/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390131829&sr=8-1&keywords=pete+the+popcorn+2

And that’s it.

My life since July in a cute little nutshell.

Talk to you soon. Hold me to that. Please.

Nick

Thanks for visiting this blog! As you see, it is not supported by advertising. If you would like to personally support this blog and its authors, here is what you can do:

1. Go pick up a copy of Pete the Popcorn at Amazon! Pete the Popcorn was our first book, nationally recognized as a perfectly subtle anti-bullying message for youngsters. You can LIKE Pete on Facebook by visiting www.Facebook.com/PeteThePopcorn. And you’ll find all sortz of information like videos, photos and school visit PDF files at www.PeteThePopcorn.com.

2. Jump on the Pete bandwagon and purchase Pete the Popcorn 2! This book teaches children all about the Popcorn Principle of honesty! It’s available here!

3. Treat yourself to our popular book Casey and Callie Cupcake! This Frosted Fable About Being Fantastic Just The Way You Are teaches children to accept themselves and their friends for the person they are on the inside! Keep track of our new cupcake book offerings on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CupcakeBook!

Thanks for all your support! If you want to help out in other ways, please contact us!